There’s one episode of the cartoon series Doug that I recall in vivid detail. Doug and his classmates are playing baseball. Everyone’s doing fine, except poor Doug, who keeps striking out. It’s late in the game, the score’s tied, and Doug’s up to bat. Patti notices something: Doug, who’s a leftie, is swinging from the right. She corrects Doug’s form, he hits the ball, and the game is won.
It’s ridiculous, right? Something so obvious — Doug being a southpaw — getting overlooked by Doug himself when he tries to swing a bat. How could anyone overlook something like that?
Yeah, well, have I got a story for you. See, I’d been under the impression that I was a Theist for the past few years. And it didn’t occur to me, until after some intense introspection, that I’m actually not.
I am pleased to announce that my short story “Mold” will be appearing in a forthcoming anthology! Survivor, edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke, will be released by Lethe Press in Summer 2018. Pre-order the anthology here.
A big thanks to Alison McMahon, Karl Dandenell, Jocelyn Kirby, and others for their insightful input during the development of this story. It took a long journey from first draft to publication, but now the public will get a chance to read it.
Edit 2018-04-02: new release date and pre-order link added.
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Sunday afternoon I turned on The Dark Crystal for my annual re-watch, a New Year’s tradition of mine. As I was sorting through old mail and generally cleaning house, something odd happened:
I turned it off midway through.
My feelings about this beautiful, imaginative film have evolved over the past few years. I was deeply invested in this film not too long ago. Yet after my disillusionment with the Henson Company’s prequel writing contest in 2013, I started taking a more critical look at it.
I typically don’t do this to movies. Books, including both prose and graphic novels, I can engage in with some distance, which allows me to tease apart a story more easily. Yet movies have always been visceral, and I’m usually too emotionally involved with the visuals to properly engage them.
But The Dark Crystal meant a lot to me, and I had to figure out why. The writer in me had to know whether it was the storytelling or the production design that drew me to it.
On my hard drive sits a novel-length manuscript. I wrote the rough draft about four years ago, and subsequently revised, polished, rewrote half of it from scratch, revised and polished yet again, and let it sit while I decided where to take it.
This novel had some similarities to a very popular show on a global video streaming site. I thought I could use that show as a comparable, or comp for short. (Comps are used in pitches to editors and agents: they demonstrate that a story is enough like a successful work that it can be sold.) I would need to differentiate my work from this show, since there were some uncanny similarities, but that could be done through incremental revisions.
However, a new season of this famous show just dropped.
I recently re-read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, an otherwise excellent book on pursuing Buddhist practice, when I came across a curious statement. To paraphrase, Chodron considers theism an addiction, a desire for “a babysitter” to come in and fix things.